The Alpine property market is fizzing with fresh ideas – and many of them come from Terrésens, one of Erna Low Property’s principal partners in France. Here, Marketing Manager Margaux Planet outlines five key innovations.
Terrésens builds upmarket second homes in premium locations, in both the Alps and by the sea. On behalf of their owners we also market many of these properties as holiday lets through our management company My Second Home – as well as providing on-site concierge services to both owners and guests.
As a result, we’ve absorbed a huge amount of information about what people want from their holiday homes, whether they’re investors or holidaymakers. These lessons are now feeding into the way we design and build our properties. Add to that the need to reduce the environmental impact of our buildings, and you can see why we’ve been reimagining parts of our business.
Holiday habits are changing. These days, people don’t always want to book a trip for a whole week. Often, they’re also travelling in groups that are larger, or smaller, than the traditional family unit. So for winter 2019 we launched a new ultra-flexible apart-hotel concept – Daddy Pool. 10-20% of the apartments in our new Daddy Pool résidences are designed to be sub-divided and let separately. That means a three-room apartment can either be rented out in its entirety, or as one “junior suite” bedroom and another “master suite” with a kitchen, lounge area and beds for four people.
Meanwhile, bigger families and groups can also book ultra-modern dormitory rooms, with up to ten beds. Crucially, whatever the room size, guests can stay for as many nights as they want, whether it’s two nights or ten. The result? Greater flexibility means more bookings – especially outside the peak weeks of the school holidays – and therefore higher rental returns for our investors.
Anyone who’s stayed in a modern city-centre hotel will have noticed the way the use of lobbies and lounges has changed in the last five years. Suddenly, everybody wants to hang out in them, rather than hiding in their rooms. All our new Daddy Pool résidences will reflect this change – with bigger, more exciting public spaces. It’s not just a question of offering pools and spas, but co-working spaces, bar-tapas restaurants, kids’ rooms and games rooms as well. The style is modern and eclectic, the atmosphere conversational and relaxed: giving families and friends places in which to reconnect without having to go off in search of a café or a public leisure complex.
It’s not just holidaymakers who are demanding more flexibility. Homeowners want it too. That goes beyond selecting different colours and finishes in a new-build apartment. If a buyer is looking for a larger property or bigger rooms we can work with our internal architects to combine two apartments and/or reconfigure floorplans.
In every stage of the design and build process, we’re reducing the environmental impact of our buildings.
To cut energy consumption, for example, we choose sunny, south-facing sites and install heat recovery systems. We also build with local materials wherever possible: Douglas fir and larch for the frames, cladding and railings, and spruce for the interiors. All are sourced from France or – failing that – the rest of Europe, to reduce long-distance shipping. Meanwhile rainwater is extensively harvested and water-efficient appliances are installed. Put all these practices together, and we can justifiably speak of a new generation of low-impact mountain homes.
Finally, we’re well aware that not all owners use their properties in the same way. For those wanting plenty of private use as well as a rental income, we’ve developed the Co-Ownership of Residence for Tourism – the CRT. This lets owners enjoy their second homes for up to six months a year whilst still benefitting from rental-pool income and a full VAT refund on the property. Now, for the Daddy Pool apart-hotel label, we’ve launched a new leaseback product, tightly-focused on rental returns. All Daddy Pool apartments will be sold under these schemes, which offer less private use than a CRT, but much higher rental income. In fact, the average yield could reach 3% or 4% a year, before tax.